Cooler Master Storm Inferno Gaming Laser Mouse

Author
Logan King
Editor
Aron Schatz
Posted
August 4, 2010
Manufacturer
Cooler Master
Product Page
CM Storm Inferno
Views
59597
Cooler Master Storm Inferno Gaming Laser Mouse
The Cooler Master Storm Inferno is a precise mouse with good build quality and a terrific sense of style. It offers many upper level features and plenty of adjustability for a price that represents a pretty good value.

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Introduction

For the past few years, Cooler Master has started diversifying their product line outside of their typical target market. They have introduced laptop accessories, various types of mice, and, most recently, the Storm line of gaming peripherals. Today, ASE Labs will be looking at the Cooler Master Storm Inferno, Cooler Master's latest addition to their Storm range of products.

About Cooler Master

Quote

OUR MISSION
Cooler Master was founded with the mission of providing the industry's best thermal solutions. Since its establishment a decade ago, the company has remained faithful to this mission, emerging as a world leader in products and services for companies dealing with devices where heat issues must be resolved.

In pursuing this mission, Cooler Master is absolutely committed to delivering solutions that precisely meet customer requirements for features, performance, and quality. Moreover, we strive to be a reliable long-term partner for our customers that they can truly depend on. Cooler Master aims to be the first and foremost name that comes to mind for companies around the world seeking thermal solutions, and seeks to build such a reputation through outstanding technology, sophisticated design, and superior service.

Cooler Master's current business encompasses a comprehensive lineup of thermal solutions for a full range of applications. Our products range from heat sinks and fans to component housing, chassis, and ducting for computers, industrial machinery, telecommunications equipment, and many other devices.

A critical component of Cooler Master's ability to successfully pursue its mission is an unstinting commitment to quality, as demonstrated by the ISO 9001 certification granted to its main manufacturing plant in Taiwan. We have also enforced ISO guidelines and is in the process of applying for ISO 9002 certification at its second and third plants, located in China. Cooler Master has also implemented a number of analytical and testing protocols to ensure top quality, including at subcontractors, to further ensure thorough quality control. Moreover, Cooler Master's dedication to quality extends beyond manufacturing to every aspect of its operation, including service.

http://www.coolermaster-usa.com/contact.php?page_id=2


Packaging

The first sign that shows a company is committed to their products is the effort that they go when designing their packaging. Smart packaging helps build brand awareness. The more your packaging stands out, the more notable your products will be on the minds of consumers. In this respect, Cooler Master has certainly gone all out.

Packaging Front


The front of the packaging has pretty nifty black/red motif going on with a picture of the mouse surrounded by glowing streaks and some of the mouse specifications along the bottom. However, the front of the packaging also contains the biggest problem in the way the mouse is presented. The mouse is, intentionally or not, presented in a way that does make it look like a wireless mouse more than a wired one.

While it is likely that most sales of this product would be made online where people would (probably) know better, the box has been designed to hang from store shelves and nothing on the packaging makes any mention of the mouse being wired or not. In fact, even with the special way the packaging for this mouse was designed (more on that a bit later), it still came as somewhat of a surprise that the mouse was indeed wired upon opening it up. With that issue out of the way, we can move on to the rear of the package.

Packaging Rear


The back of the box mentions the product features and also carries a bit of the motif from the front of the packaging. While all of these features will be discussed more thoroughly a bit later, take particular note of the Polling Rate and Lift-off distance numbers. These determine how smooth the mouse operation is on screen is and how high you have to lift the mouse off of the mouse pad to get it to stop tracking, respectively. The latter is particularly important number. As mentioned by Aron in his review of the »Arctic Cooling M571, too high of a tracking distance by the lasers can make large mouse movements a chore.
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Packaging Continued

One thing you may have noticed about the packaging is the lack of a plastic window located somewhere on the front showing off the product, as is nearly universal in the peripheral market these days. The reason for this is actually the most impressive thing about the packaging for the mouse.

Packaging Opened


Yes, the package has a flip-open book view of the mouse, similar to how most PC games used to be sold. It is even held shut by two button-sized Velcro fasteners. Within is a somewhat shrink-wrapped plastic window that displays the mouse as well as another page of more specific mouse features. The window design allows people to get a closer look at the product than most peripheral packaging allows. It also allows potential buyers to get a rough idea of how the mouse would feel in their hand. That being said, one should try to get actual hands on time with any peripheral before committing to a purchase.

One can only imagine how much more this packaging design cost Cooler Master to implement over the traditional "box with a window" design seen practically everywhere else. It is quite important to note their committal to the packaging of their product, as it shows just how much they believe that the device they are making is a true quality piece.

Specifications

  • 4000 DPI Storm Tactical Laser Sensor
  • 128kb Sentinel-X Memory
  • 11 Button Output
  • 9 Programmable Buttons
  • Rapid Fire Tactical Key
  • Storm MacroPro Key
  • Storm Tactics Key
  • Max Speed of 115 Inches per Second
  • Lift-off Distance of 2mm
  • 1000hz Polling / 1 ms Response Time
  • Ergonomic Design
  • Gold-plated USB Connection
  • Full-Speed USB


There are some very important things to take from this. First of all is the high DPI setting. While it is not really that high in regards to dedicated gaming mice (for example, the other mouse in the Cooler Master Storm range, the Sentinel Advance, has a 5600 DPI rating), it is far higher than most people would ever normally use. More importantly, higher DPI ranges imply that the mouse lasers are more precise across the board. This is always a good thing.

Another major feature of this mouse is the 128kb of on-board memory. When used in conjunction with the bundled software, it allows you to save your mouse settings to the mouse itself so you can use it with whatever Windows computer you like with the same settings that you use on your own computer. This by itself could be a product seller for those who like using their own mice with any computer they use (which naturally includes those who regularly attend LAN parties).

Marketing Summary

Quote

The raw power of the CM Storm Inferno Gaming mouse was barely contained by our experts at the CM Storm Labs. It is exclusively crafted for crucial MMO and FPS gaming functions–fulfilling the needs of all FPS and MMORPG gamers whose demands require nothing less than the very best.

Mobilized to deploy any Storm Ops in near light-speed, the Inferno is fortified with an ultra precise 4000 DPI twin laser sensor, a boosted internal 128k Sentinel-X™ memory, and enhanced with our latest patented technology for MMORPGers–the StormTactics™ Multiplierkey. The Inferno is designed for total user customization with heavy macro and script capabilities inside and it is built to perform ultra fast combo commands with remarkable precision.


Package Contents

The packaging removal is pretty straight forward. You just open the box from the top or the bottom and slide out the plastic. The casing is two sheets of plastic sandwiched over the mouse with a piece of cardboard keeping the wire out of sight. Underneath the cardboard tucked in with the wire is a CD with the software on it. No manual to speak of, but since you are probably going to install the software anyways to access the more advanced features of the mouse, this isn't a big deal.

Package Contents


Removing the mouse from the plastic reveals the mouse itself as well as the software CD. As you can see, the mouse is about 2/3rds the size of the installation disc and a bit longer in diameter.
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CM Storm Inferno

While it is one thing to create good packaging to hide an undeserving product, it is quite another to create good packaging that complements an already great product. Thankfully, in regards to the CM Storm Inferno, Cooler Master seems to have done the latter.

Storm Inferno


While the mouse is certainly no ogre in terms of design, upon removing the product from its plastic casing, the first thing that was noticed was not really anything about the mouse itself but rather the USB cable used in its connection to a PC.

Cables


The cable is wrapped in what appears to be a Nylon braid for the entire length which gives off a feel and effect quite similar to what really high end home theater cables use (such as Monster cables). Furthermore, the USB connector itself is indeed gold-plated. These measures are seemingly for durability and connection reasons, but are really most likely complete overkill in regards to what was actually necessary to get the job done. Regardless, the attention to detail is nonetheless quite admirable and you certainly can't fault a company for going well beyond what is typically expected.

Inferno Right Profile


This apparent high standard of engineering continues on to the mouse itself. One of the first things noticed about the mouse design was the general profile. While it is contoured to be used with the right hand, it doesn't have the extreme contour seen in most gaming mice. This means that the mouse could actually be usable by lefties if it was necessary, unlike most gaming mice where you are pretty much forced to use your right hand whether it is dominant or not. Despite this seemingly mild contour, the mouse still fit quite well in our testing.
That being said, it is still always best to test any input device you are going to purchase if at all possible. The size and contour was perfect for us while testing, but it may not work for you. Furthermore, while this mouse does score points for being usable by lefties, it wasn't designed for them. They really should still look elsewhere. Remember, match the input device to your needs. Don't change your needs to match the input device.

Inferno Left Profile


A side view of the mouse shows how Cooler Master designed the contour as well as the the overall profile of the mouse. Rather than having deep inset grooves for your fingers to rest in, the Inferno has a rather grippy, rubbery plastic surface on the both sides of the mouse where your fingers go with 4 shallow slats cut into it them, presumably, for even more support. In practice, the end result seems to be the same as if they were dedicated grooves but without the large amount of contour in the overall shape. Your fingers stay in place on both sides of the mouse when resting but you can also slide them without much trouble.
You can also see the standard forward/back buttons as well as the Inferno's Storm Tactics key which basically acts like a function key on a laptop.

Storm Inferno Top View


From the top of the Inferno, you can see the main buttons of the mouse. Perhaps the biggest deviation from the norm is the scroll wheel. It is roughly twice as wide as your typical scroll wheel, and it has grooves etched into the surface for increased grip and, according to the product manual, to keep the wheel from getting sweaty (they are even officially called "sweat diversion channels."). Below the wheel is an LED and the outer rim of the wheel is transparent to let a small amount of light through.

The numbers along the side correspond to LEDs that tell you what DPI setting the mouse is currently set at. These LEDs are intelligently placed in a location that allows them to be seen even when you hand is on the mouse. The default DPI values are 800, 1400, 2400, 3300, and 4000. Depending on how you set the mouse up, any one of these DPI settings can range from 500 DPI to 4000 DPI, and you can even adjust these settings on the fly without any of the included mouse software. The procedure for doing so is explained at length in the product manual, and will be covered more later, but the fact you can individually adjust the DPI settings without any software is quite fantastic. The buttons to switch between the DPI settings are the two below the scroll wheel with the left cycling up to five and the right cycling down to one. The effect is really cool and it changes depending on what profile you are currently using. Like pretty much everything else with this mouse, this is adjustable on a per-profile basis. You can shut it off if you want.

Inferno Front View


The buttons to the far left and right of the scroll wheel are the Rapid Fire button and the MacroPro key (which is the default button for applying macros). The final button, below the DPI buttons, is the profile button. Pressing this switches between the four different available mouse profiles and it has 4 different backlight settings corresponding to what profile you are currently in. One of them is with the backlight off and the other three are Green, Red, and Yellow (which corresponds to the Default Profile, Profile 1, Profile 2, and Profile 3, respectively). One aspect of the design that we were unable to take a picture of is the small flame graphic about an inch below the profile button. Even in direct light it is difficult to see, and its purpose is to light up when the mouse is in use. Surrounding the cord you can see some vents which are purely aesthetic. They have a honeycomb grill inset into them and an LED shines through and produces a nifty look on whatever surface you have the mouse on. This LED is also adjustable.

Storm Inferno Underside


The bottom of the mouse is pretty straightforward. As this mouse doesn't offer an optional weight compartment, there really isn't anything of note down there besides the large low-friction pads.
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CM Storm Inferno Software

As mentioned, adjustability is a major facet of this mouse. Pretty much everything you can think to adjust on a laser mouse can be adjusted as well as several things you probably wouldn't think of. For this reason, it is quite important that the software is easy to use. It especially important for the instructions to be clear and concise. First, a warning; While the included software does feature a handy "Reset to Default" option for the mouse in case you make a mistake, you really need to make sure you read the included info in regards to how to use it. The software is quite user friendly and all of the options are clearly labeled, but the software is also very powerful.

Inferno Software Main Menu


The main menu of the software has all of the "typical" options that you would expect to change. It allows you to change the current profile and all of the options specific to that profile. You can change the USB report rate, the motion sensitivity, the double click speed, and the button response. This is stuff that you can mostly do in Windows already, so it isn't that big of a deal.

More notable is the column to the far right. This is the button reassignment section. Among other things, this allows you to change around the button layout from the default one to whatever you want. For example, if you wanted Forward and Back to be the Rapid Fire and Quick Macro key (respectively), you could do so. When combined with the multiple profiles, however, this becomes quite a bit more powerful than that. For example, you could create a profile on the mouse dedicated completely to macro functions (with the exception of the left, right and middle click buttons, which cannot be assigned to macro functions), and then name it as such.

There are a couple of notable quirks with the button relocation feature:
  • Only 9 of the buttons can be reassigned. This isn't really surprising, as the box specifically mentions such. However, that the two unchangeable buttons (which are the Storm Tactics key and the profile button) still show up on the reassignment panel the same way as the other ones do is rather confusing.
  • None of the buttons on the default profile can be reassigned.


Both of these are far from problems. In fact, they are actually quite brilliant safety measures, because they prevent you from making changes that would basically lead to the equivalent of bricking your mouse. You are always able to switch the profile of the mouse without the software, and once you get it on the default profile you can always use it as a regular mouse.


Towards the bottom of the software window in the middle is the DPI adjustment. These are all individually adjustable to each profile, as mentioned, but one particularly notable thing is that the DPI on each level is separately adjustable in regards to vertical and horizontal motion. It should go without saying that this could make certain forms of graphics editing considerably easier. For those who don't care to separately adjust the two axis, there is a helpful checkbox that locks to two sliders together. Amazingly enough, this directional adjustment is also possible to do without the software if you have the patience to find just the right setting. We tested the built-in method for doing so, and while it does work, simply using the software was quite a bit quicker. Still, the ability being their greatly adds to the versatility of the mouse.
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CM Storm Inferno Software Continued

The second tab of the Inferno software deals with the Storm Tactics key.

Inferno Software Storm Tactics Menu


The Storm Tactics key functions somewhat akin to a function key on a laptop. You hold it down and then you press another button (or two other buttons) to get a new effect. You can use this to reassign buttons more important tasks or less important tasks without losing button functionality. This tab also features the scroll wheel adjustment setting which determines how far each page scrolls with each tick of the scroll wheel. This feature is also profile specific, but you can use the same scripts for each profile if you like.

Inferno Software Macro Menu


The third deals with creating macros. The ability to assign macros is a hugely useful feature for this mouse to have, so it is understandable that it is one of the selling points. The mouse is capable of saving up to 32 different macros in the onboard memory, and you can export them to your computer to back them up or if you want to create ones to use later. The scripting tab is quite similar though capable of more advanced functionality and less storage (the mouse can only keep 6 scripts saved to it). The macros and scripts are the only things adjustable on the mouse that aren't profile specific and can be accessed from any profile, so long as you have a button combo set up to access them.

These three mouse functions can combine to greatly increase the usefulness of the mouse in certain games. For example, let's say you are playing a game that has occasional uses for a turbofire mode, but the Rapid Fire button by itself would be much more useful in gameplay if it the computer recognized pressing it as the same as pressing the Return key on the keyboard. What you would do is create a macro consisting of you pressing the Return key, and then you would assign it to the Rapid Fire button instead of the default turbofire function. But since you don't want to lose the turbofire functionality completely, you assign the Rapid Fire button (which is button #9) to work as a turbofire again when you have the Storm Tactics key pressed, like so:

Inferno Software Macro/Tactics Example


The software is capable of doing much more complex things than this of course, but this is a quick example. Also, remember that this is saved to the mouse itself, so it would work the same way on any computer you plugged it into. You could just need to remember the required button combos and what profile that they are contained within.

Inferno Software Library Function


As mentioned above, the mouse only has room to save 32 macros and 6 scripts. To create more and/or back up your current ones, you go to the library tab to export macros to your hard drive which is the final tab with the exception of the Update tab. The library is also what you use to import your backed up macros and scripts into the Inferno to save to the on-board memory.
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Use

All of this extra functionality and adjustability is nice, but it would all be useless if the mouse itself wasn't a quality piece. After all, what reason would someone have to use these extra features if the mouse itself was garbage?

Inferno Quarter View


One shouldn't worry about that, though, as the mouse itself is quite good. The "general" mouse features all work well, and everything feels top quality. The big scroll wheel has a good surface and perfect resistance. Each scroll tick corresponds perfectly to a single scroll. The wheel is also quite capable of being "thrown," so you can quickly scroll a page. While these seem like trivial things to specifically state, you would be surprised how often mice can get the basics like this wrong.

As far the buttons go, they feel solid enough to withstand a good amount of use. Particularly notable are the Rapid Fire and MacroPro buttons. Their location makes it seem like they would be susceptible to accident pressings, but their raised design and relatively high resistance keeps it from being a problem. They all generally feel like quality buttons that will last a good while.

There are a few quirks with some of the buttons, however. The wheel click is solid and sturdy feeling, but it is somewhat prone to accidental pressings because it sometimes registers as a click when pushed to the right. Also, a couple of the buttons have a somewhat mushy feel compared to the rest of them. Specifically, the Storm Tactics key (where the mushy feeling may be intentional) and the Back button (where it probably isn't). This isn't a huge detractor, as both buttons are still responsive, but they still stuck out compared to the rest.

Inferno Quarter View Zoomed


Testing on the mouse was done over the course of two weeks under a variety of uses ranging from gaming to some photograph editing. It was also done on a variety of surfaces, including two different types of mousepads, a couple of wooden computer desks and on a sheet of high-gloss photo paper. We were curious about the system requirements mentioned on the box, which specified that it required Windows 2000 and up for functionality. Therefore, our usage testing specifically included a laptop computer using Windows 7 Professional, a desktop computer running Windows XP Professional and Ubuntu 10.4, and a CECHAxx Sony PlayStation 3 in order to get an idea of what features would potentially be missing when the mouse wasn't connected to Windows.

Our testing found that the actual limitation doesn't seem to be related to the mouse itself. All of the mouse features seemed to work without fail on all of the systems tested on. The DPI adjustment and rapid fire functions even worked on the PS3, which was quite surprising. We weren't able to test the macro settings on the PS3, mostly due to a lack of any software to really try them with, but it shouldn't be a problem using them with the system. The conclusion that can be drawn from this is that the Windows-only limitation actually seems to stem from the software rather than the mouse, so as long as you have some Windows computer to set up the mouse the first time you use it you shouldn't have a problem using the mouse with whatever you want.

The actual testing itself made the mouse out to be quite good. The laser system was precise and it worked on all of the surfaces that it was tested on without any tracking problems. The mouse does lack weight adjustability, but as it possesses a decent mass by itself this didn't cause any problems.

That isn't to say that things went perfectly, though. First of all, testing on the laptop system put some gremlins on display. Specifically, on occasion when the mouse was plugged in (and everytime the mouse software was started), it would do something to the touchpad driver that would make the touchpad completely useless, completely decimating the scroll speed on the touchpad. The touchpad would then stay gimped until the laptop was restarted.

The other problem noticed involved the lift-off height of the mouse. While it seemed to be near as no difference to the 2mm height advertised on the packaging, when the mouse was lifted off when stationary there was a noticeable drifting of a few pixels (though how much depended on the current DPI settings) towards the bottom right. This doesn't seem to be a problem when the mouse is in motion and lifted, and it wasn't actually even noticed until the very end of our testing, but it could really be a dealbreaker for those that intended to use this mouse for really precise work. Hopefully both of these issues are ones that can be fixed in a future firmware revision.

Conclusion

The Cooler Master Storm Inferno is quite a fantastic mouse. The build quality is great, the design is clearly well thought out, the plentiful hardware features are largely OS independent and the $60 price tag is well in line with the rest of the market. Even without the included mouse software, this mouse would still be good enough for it to be recommended by ASE Labs. The power of the included software and how many facets of the mouse can be customized with it just pushes it up that much further. While it has some drawbacks of varying consequence (a few of which may be repairable with a future firmware update), and it lacks some of the features of top end gaming mice (like adjustable weights), we at ASE Labs can easily recommend the Cooler Master Storm Inferno laser gaming mouse.

ASE Labs would like to thank Cooler Master for making this review possible.

Comments

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